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Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Jazzcmor, Sep 24, 2009.
What is chemical cleaning and can anyone do it?
Well, I guess as soon as I get the hang of TM I'll know to look deeper for previous questions.
Chemical cleaning uses specific, very secret ingredients that only instrument repair shops can obtain. I suppose if you could find the stuff, you could do it yourself. I don't know if the tool supply places sell it to the public or where you would go to find it. But, for a DIY project, a bath of lukewarm water with some mild dishsoap and a snake brush will at least get most of the big chunks out (disassemble first and don't submerge the corks and felts on top of the valves).
In addition to CBK's good advice, I have done a form of "chemical cleaning" successfully a number of time. Same bathtub routine, but use CLR or The Works, etc. lime remover in proportion to the amount of water in the tub (label directions). Leave in for 15min. You will see the chemical action taking place. Remove parts and thoroughly rinse in clear water and let dry. You can do the same with the pistons in a glass of water with a little CLR for 5 min, taking care not to get felts wet.
The "chemical cleaning" you can get in some repair shops uses pretty toxic chemicals like chromates or cyanide. They do a nice job, but in my professional repair technician's opinion such a cleaning is best reserved for instruments which haven't ever been cleaned and have lots of crud crusted on. For most instruments just warm water (not hot or you can destroy the lacquer on some horns) and a mild dishwashing detergent such as Dawn or Ivory will do as good a job, if done regularly.
And if you do this regularly you'll never have need of the toxic chemical.
Some shops offer ultrasonic cleaning which OLDLOU says works well on some of his vintage horns.
Ultrasonic is great for older horns because the toxic chemicals actually work by "eating" away the surface of the metal along with the crud (leave a horn in the chromate solution too long and you end up with swiss cheese instead of solid brass) and often older horns already have brass, especially in the slides, which has worn to be extra thin and can be a problem. The ultrasonic cleaning won't harm the metal and will simply dislodge crud which is stuck inside the tubes.
I have used the CLR cleaning and LOVED it. Thought it was the best thing I have ever done for my horn. I now just rinse it with warm water like dhbailey said.
10 minuits in a 1 part CLR to 10 parts water seems to be about optimul I have found, too long an imersion and the brass will assume a copper tint due to selective removal of Zinc.
I use a plastic rectangular planter box that just fits a trumpet and takes about 7.5 litres of solution, use a snake brush and wash out well with clean water. This has worked well on several vintage horns I have restored.
For my new horns, once a month wash out with lukewarm water and mild detergent as others have recommended and no further treatment is necessary.